Opinion: Should college athletes be paid to play?

Colton Molesky dives into the age-old question of whether or not college athletes should be compensated

Colton Molesky
Staff Writer

A mere 17 days stand between myself and the culmination of 17 years as a student. Only 17 days stare me down before I close the chapter that is my collegiate career. Knowing that my student days are numbered has one thing left looming on my plate. Do not be ridiculous, this thing I have left is not a final to study for, a loan to pay off, or some professor to thank for providing a rudder to my otherwise guideless ship.

No, this is one of the few things (had I put it off till after graduation) that would have lost all the value and weight contained in its words. Namely: An article from a college student, to college students, on the problem of collegiate sports.

For starters, I am not here to beat my chest and call to arms all student-athletes, imploring them to rise up against the corruption that is the NCAA. Nor is the system in place a flawless one, devoid of problems and operating with the bliss of a well-oiled machine.

Let me be clear: College athletes should not be paid.

Before you tell me about the $8.8 billion deal the NCAA signed in 2016 with CBS for tournament hoops (a deal extending to 2032) or the 12-year deal ESPN made with college football for the rights to the playoff in 2012 that was worth $5.64 billion, know this, and I do not care.

Yes that is a lot of money, and while the athletes do receive compensation, it is not on that scale.  Instead, look at the argument as a hard-working, fellow student. No one is looking at me for the draft, I cannot dunk or swim exceptionally fast. But I am striving towards a career I love after college.

Along with a full credit load every semester, I have worked a minimum of four jobs since my freshman year of college. Once I realized my passion was in sports broadcasting and writing, I started working in both for a grand total of $0 an hour. After a year of free labor, my efforts were minimally rewarded.

Finally my senior year, I made enough from writing and broadcasting to cut down to three jobs. This is not a sob story, but this is a testament to the grind of advancement, if you love anything you do, you have to work tirelessly. No, I did not attend practice. Or travel for games. Or sustain any injuries. I was working seven days a week on my craft and with far less job security than a Division I athlete.

I talked to Brennen Scarborough about his opinion on this matter. Brennen plays offensive line for the Northwestern St. Paul Eagles -DIII football. He has aspirations of becoming a television anchor. Not only does he play football and work for the campus station, he also has a full class load, has a job, and will be graduating on time. He accomplished all this and no scholarships because of the DIII level he plays on.

“It seems hard to justify me getting paid for sports when I have friends who drive 45 minutes to work just to make sure they can put money towards loans,” said Scarborough. “Being a DIII athlete, I do not really have much job security after college, so school is the number one priority.”

Scarborough is following his passions, and willing to grind for what he truly loves to do.

Athletes work incredibly hard at what they do, but so do the rest of us. College is about finding that thing that excites you, and finding that passion that drives the rest of your career. Whether that is digging up fossils or catching a football, it is going to take a lot of work. To be the best at anything, it takes extra hours and incredible dedication.

As a college student, writing to college students, I pose this question: I am willing to put in the extra effort, are you?

In any career realm, there are many fields but only one way to pursue those ambitions – hard work. If I am willing to work my ass off for sports writing, Scarborough is willing to work his ass off for TV and football, then what is your excuse? Each of us is hopefully learning to sharpen a specific set of skills, not just to find some mundane job that does not interest, but to become exceptional at a unique vocation. From one student to another, stop looking for the check. Put in the work on something you love, the money will come later.

Photo: (Submitted by Brennen Scarborough)

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